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2015 Could Be a Breakout Year for Small Businesses

Written by Adetola Olatunji

Small business owners have much be optimistic about in 2015, and their optimism bodes well for the overall positive trends for the U.S. economy. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the major drivers of economic change in the U.S. are quite confident in what’s to come this year. The NFIB’s monthly Optimism Index is at the highest level we have seen since October 2006. Eight of the 10 index components experienced positive gains between November and December 2014. Major highlights of the index include 54% of business owners indicating they were looking to hire, 20% expecting a sales gain in December, and 17% planning to raise compensation levels in the coming months.

Comprising around 50% of the country’s GDP, small businesses play a critical role in the overall success of our economy. Positivity from small businesses at large gives Americans at large much to be optimistic about as well in 2015. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg confirms this linkage. “There’s no question that small business owners are feeling better about the economy”, he states in reflection on the December 2014 Optimism Index. “If they continue to feel that way, 2015 could be a very good year.”

The successes and positive outlook of small businesses in are familiar, yet exciting to hear at ICIC. Through our programs and partnerships over the last year, we have seen many of their success stories first hand. Through the 2014 Inner City 100 Program, we celebrated 5,119 new jobs the businesses highlighted on the list created over the last five years. Through the Inner City Capital Connections 2014 Impact Report, we announced that program participants have raised $1.22 billion in capital since the program’s inception in 2005. And through our partnership with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, we marveled at the fact that 64% of business owners who completed the program had increased their revenues by an average of 68% within six months of graduation. With so many small business successes to report, we applaud the promising momentum for the sector as we dive deeper into 2015.

Having recognized the optimism and celebrated the past successes of small businesses, how do we keep the momentum alive this year? Here are some of the main trends that small businesses need to watch as they look to add new success stories to 2015:

  • Watch out for Millennials to Control the Conversation: It’s especially relevant for product-based businesses to recognize that millennials are controlling the conversation when it comes to spending trends across the nation. This segment of the country born between 1981 and 2000 continue to dominate the conversation by talking to their peers via social media; it’s important to keep them engaged on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as you market your products this year.
  • Learn to Leverage Content Marketing:  Whether you have a service-based or product-based business, your clients have to learn about your services somehow. Compliment word-of-mouth referrals that come from high performance through targeted marketing strategies that are eye-catching, informative, and valuable to your prospective clients or customers.
  • Pay Attention to The Increasing Influence of Minorities on Spending: The purchasing power of minorities also continues to increase with rapid speed from year to year, and is predicted to rise by 28% to $2.8 trillion by 2019. Over 50% of cities in the United States are populated by non-white majorities, and this trend will continue to increase in the years to come.  Acknowledging and addressing the increased diversity of the U.S. population in marketing efforts will prove important to the bottom line for businesses across multiple industries in 2015 and beyond.

We have much to be excited about as we look at economy trends in the U.S. for 2015. If small businesses remain optimistic and implement strategies based on the critical trends for the sector, 2015 could indeed be a breakout year for small businesses.

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